Choosing the Right Camera Type

Author: John Honovich, Published on Mar 01, 2013

When selecting a camera, you can choose from a number of different form factors and options. Each form factor comes with its own unique strengths and weaknesses - both in terms of physical sizing and advanced features provided. In this report, we examine each form factor, providing recommendations on when to use each type.

At a high level, 5 form factor categories exist:

  • Cube 
  • Bullet
  • Box
  • Dome
  • PTZ

Beyond those, 6 other fundamental options are especially important:

  • Vandal Housings
  • Day/Night functionality
  • WDR
  • for PTZs: pan range, tilt range, optical zoom

These are not the only functionalities that count. There are over 40 criteria that sophisticated users routinely consider. However, these 11 are the 'big' ones that factors in almost every camera selection decision.

Cube Cameras

Cube cameras are generally the least expensive cameras and, as such, are often deployed in residential or small business applications. A few IP cube cameras have an online price under $100 and the majority are under $250.

Here's a sample of what a cube camera looks like:

When considering cube cameras, a number of important limitations should be considered:

  • Fixed focal lenses: If you want to adjust the Field of View of a cube camera, you will have to physically move the camera to accommodate
  • Not Day/Night: It is extremely rare for them to have a mechanical cut filter, ensuring poor low light / night time quality
  • Rare IR support: Only a few cube cameras have integrated IR LEDs to enhance low light / night time imaging
  • WDR / Bright light issues: In our ongoing tests, cube cameras generally have moderate to severe problems in dealing with backlight or lighting variances
  • Lack of PoE support: Less than 25% of cube cameras have PoE support
  • Indoor only: Very few are rated for outdoor use and those are only IP54 rated against dust and water splashing
  • Short Warranties: More than 70% of cube cameras have a 1 year warranty while other form factors regularly have 2 or 3 year warranties

On the other hand, some cube cameras offer more advanced features:

  • About half have integrated wireless networking; While this usually works only over short distances, it can be helpful to eliminate network cabling. Also note that wireless support is much more common in cube cameras than any other form factor.
  • Higher Frame Rate: More than 70% of cube cameras offer 15fps or higher which is generally more than enough for most applications
  • Maximum resolution tends to be lower than other form factors.

Finally, cube cameras are generally small providing a low profile (especially compared to box cameras). However, if aesthetics and concealment are key, domes provide the best option.

We've tested a number of cube cameras. For more, read/watch our reviews on Cisco/Linksys, D-Link, Lorex, Panasonic and TrendNet cube cameras.

Pro members can read much more inside.

**** ********* * ******, *** *** ****** **** * ****** of ********* **** ******* *** *******. **** **** ****** ***** with *** *** ****** ********* *** ********** - **** ** terms ** ******** ****** *** ******** ******** ********. ** **** report, ** ******* **** **** ******, ********* *************** ** **** to *** **** ****.

** * **** *****, * **** ****** ********** *****:

  • **** 
  • ******
  • ***
  • ****
  • ***

****** *****, * ***** *********** ******* *** ********** *********:

  • ****** ********
  • ***/***** *************
  • ***
  • *** ****: *** *****, **** *****, ******* ****

***** *** *** *** **** *************** **** *****. ***** *** over ** ******** **** ************* ***** ********* ********. *******, ***** 11 *** *** '***' **** **** ******* ** ****** ***** camera ********* ********.

Cube *******

**** ******* *** ********* *** ***** ********* ******* ***, ** such, *** ***** ******** ** *********** ** ***** ******** ************. A *** ** **** ******* **** ** ****** ***** ***** $*** and *** ******** *** ***** $***.

****'* * ****** ** **** * **** ****** ***** ****:

**** *********** **** *******, * ****** ** ********* *********** ****** be **********:

  • ***** ***** ******: ** *** **** ** ****** *** ***** of **** ** * **** ******, *** **** **** ** physically **** *** ****** ** ***********
  • *** ***/*****: ** ** ********* **** *** **** ** **** a ********** *** ******, ******** **** *** ***** / ***** time *******
  • **** ** *******: **** * *** **** ******* **** ********** ** LEDs ** ******* *** ***** / ***** **** *******
  • *** / ****** ***** ******: ** *** ******* *****, **** cameras ********* **** ******** ** ****** ******** ** ******* **** backlight ** ******** *********
  • **** ** *** *******: **** **** **% ** **** ******* have *** *******
  • ****** ****: **** *** *** ***** *** ******* *** *** ***** are **** **** ***** ******* **** *** ***** *********
  • ***** **********: **** **** **% ** **** ******* **** * 1 **** ******** ***** ***** **** ******* ********* **** * or * **** **********

** *** ***** ****, **** **** ******* ***** **** ******** features:

  • ***** **** **** ********** ******** **********; ***** **** ******* ***** only **** ***** *********, ** *** ** ******* ** ********* network *******. **** **** **** ******** ******* ** **** **** common ** **** ******* **** *** ***** **** ******.
  • ****** ***** ****: **** **** **% ** **** ******* ***** 15fps ** ****** ***** ** ********* **** **** ****** *** most ************
  • ******* ********** ***** ** ** ***** **** ***** **** *******.

*******, **** ******* *** ********* ***** ********* * *** ******* (especially ******** ** *** *******). *******, ** ********** *** *********** are ***, ***** ******* *** **** ******.

**'** ****** * ****** ** **** *******. *** ****, ****/***** our ******* *******/*******,*-****,*****,************************ *******.

*** ******* *** **** **** **** ******.

[***************]

Box ** **** *******

**** ** *** ****, ******** ** * ***** ******* ***** down ** * ******** ** *** ** ****. ******, ***** 90% ** ***** ******* **** *** **** *** *** ** dome. ** ******** **** *** ******* *** '**********' **** *******.

** *** ***** ** ******* *** ********* ******* ***** *** and **** **** *******.

*** ***** ***** ******** ** ******** ** *** *********:

***************
 Interchangeable ******** **************
 Aiming *********** ******* ** *******
 ***** ******** **************** *******
 Install **** ****** ************* ********
 Cutting **** ***************** **** 
 Aesthetics / *********** **************
 Vandal ********* **********
 Outdoor ***** ***** ************** *****-**
 Integrated ** *********

Box *******

*** ******* ******* *********** *** ********** ** * ********** *** price.  ***'* ******* *** **** ******* **** ***** ****** *** cameras:

  • *************** ******: ***** **% ** *** ******* ***** ***** ** ****** change ******. **** ** ********* ********** ** *** *** ****** to **** ********* **** ** *** **** (*** **** ******* a ********* ****). ** ********, **** **** **% ** **** cameras ******* *************** ****** *** ***** **** ** ******* **** size *********** ******* ** *** ******* ******** *********.
  • ****** ******: ** *** **** ** *** * ****** ** *** angle ****** **** ******** *****, *** ******* **** ** ** easier *** ******* ******* ***** **** **** *******. **** **** cameras, ******* **** *** ******** ****** * *******, ******** *** be ********** (****** **** ****** ********* ** *** ****** ** the ****).
  • ***** ******** ******* ********* **** * ****** *****, *** ****** ***** equal, ******** ** *****. *** ********, *** ******* ***** *** camera ***** ~$***.  ** ********, *** ******* ***** **** ****** costs ~$***. **** ******* ********** ** *** ** **** ** the ******* ********** ** *****, **** **** **** **** ********* ****** ********* **** ****-******** *** *******.
  • **** **** ** *******: ******* **** ******* *** ***** ******** ** * ***** mount ** * *******, **** ***** *** ** *** ** quicker *** **** **** *****. ***** ********* ******** **********, ***** can ** **** *********** ** *******.
  • **** ******* **** ********: **** ******** *** ***, **** **** ** ****** ***** in *** ******* ****** **** *****. *** ********, *** ******* resolution ******* ******** ** ** ** ***** ****** **** *****. Also, **** *** ******* **** ***** ** ******** ***** ********* than *****.

***** ** ** ***** ** * ******* *** ******:

***** *****, ***** ***** * ***** ***** ** ********** **** box *******.

Dome *******

***** ***** *** ** ******** **** *********, **** ***** * number ** ******** *******/********** **** *** **** **** *** *******. Included *** ******* ****** ** **** *******:

****** *** **** ******* *** ***** ****** * **** ****** over * *** ******.

  • **********/***********: ***** *** ***** ***** ******* * ******* ** ****, making **** ********** *************. **** *****, **** ***** **** ************* from **** ***** ** *** ***** *****. **** ***** ***** the **** *********/*********** *********.
  • ****** *********: **** **% ** ***** *** ****** ********* ******** ** less **** **% ** *** *******. ** *** *** ********* about ****** ******** **** ******, ****** ********* ** ********. **** though **** *** ****** ** ***** ** ****** ********** ** a ********** ****** *** **** ************. ***** ******** ****** ******* exist (******** *******), ************* ****** ******** ** ** **** ******* ***** ******* achieved.
  • *******: ** *** **** * ****** **** *** ** ******* outdoors ******* ****** * ******** *******, ***** *** **********. **** than **** ** **** ******* *** ******* ***** ***** *** *** cameras ***.
  • ********** **: ** *** **** ** ******* *** ***** / ***** time ***********, **** ***** ******** ********** (*****-**) ** ****. **** is * *** **** *** ** ********* ***** ******* **** artificial ******** ** *** *********. ** *** ***** ****, *** distance ********** *** ** ***** (**** **** ** ****** / 60 ****) *** *** ******** ** ** **** ** ***** to *** ****** *** ***** ***** ********.

***'* *** *** **** ****** *********, ******* ******* **** ********** IR *** ****** *** *** **** ****** *** *** **** of ****** *** ******* ** *********** ******.

Bullet *******

****** ******* *** ** **** ******* ** ** * ********** form ** *** ******. ******* ******* *** * *** ********/******** uncommon ** *** *******. ***'* ******* *** ****** ********:

  • **** **% *** **** ** **** *****: **** ***** ******* easier ** ****** ******** ** ***** ** ** **** ** buy *** ******* * ******** *********.
  • **** **% ******* ****/*** *****: **** ***** ******* **** ******** in *** ***** **********.
  • **** **% ** ******* **** ********** ** ************: **** ***** bullets **** **** ***** ** ** ***** *** *** **** to *** ***** ********* (******* ** **** / ** ****** or ****).

***** ** ** ******* ** * ****** *******. ****** **** the ******* ******* *** *** *****-** ** **** ****** *** lens

PTZ *******

**** *********** ****, *** **** ***** ******** **: *** ** fixed ******. *** *** ******* ****** ************* **** ** *** the ******** ** * ****** **** *** *** ******* ****** a **** **** (*.*., * ***)?

** **** * *********** ******* **** ******* *** *** ****** in ********* ****. ** ********* *** **** ***** ***** ****** selecting ****:

*** *******

**** ********* ****, * ******** **** ******** ****** ******* *** performance:

  • ******* ****: ******** ******* **** ** ********* **** *** **** ** see ****** **** *** *** ****. ** ********, ******* ***** range **** ***** ** ** *** (**** * *** **** with ***** *** ****** *****). ***** **'* ********* ******** **** the ****** *** ******* ****, *** ******* *** *** *** 'see', **** ** *** ****** *******. *** ******* **** ******** the ***** ** *****. *** ********, ** * *** *** a *** ******* ****, ** ***** **** ***** ** * 20 ***** ********** ******* *** ******'* ****** *** ********* ***** length (*.*., * ** ** ** **). *******, ******* ****** with * *** ******* **** *** **** * ***** ****** range **** *.* ** ** ** **. ******** *** ***** PTZ *** *** **** **** ******, **** *** **** ** able ** *** '*******'. ** *******, * ****** ******* **** number ***** * ****** **** *** ******* *** *** ******. Secondly, *** ********** ******* ** *** ******* **** *** *** optical **** **** *** **** *** *** *** *** ** far. ******** *** ******* **** *** **** ******* ***** ****** (e.g., *** *** *** *** * ***** - *** ******* - ** *.* ** ** **** *** *** *** *** has * ***** ** *.*** ** *** **), *** *** PTZ *** '***' ***** ** *** (** ****).
  • *** *****: *** ***** ******** *** ******* *** *** *** ** move ************. *** ******* ***** ** *** *******, ******* **** the *** *** **** ************ ************ ** '****' ** *** direction. ***** **% ** **** ******* *** ****** *******. ** you **** ** **** * *** ** *** ****** ** an **** *** ******** ********* ** ***** ********, *** ****** strongly ******** * *** **** *** ******* *******. **** **** cost, ** *******, * *** ******* ******* **** *** **** help ****** **** *** ** *** **** ******** *** ** constraints ** ******* *** ***.
  • **** *****: **** ***** ******** ******** ********** (******* ** *** ****). The '***** ******' *** **** ***** ** *** *******. **** means *** ****** *** **** *** *** *** **** *** side ** *** ***** (*.*., **** ** *** *****, **** all *** *** ****, **** ** *** ****). **** ** important, **** **** **** *** *******, ** **** **** *** can ***** * ******* ****** * ********. *******, **** ***** 30% ** **** *** ** *** ******* ** **** (*** - *** ******* **** ***** ** *** ****** ** 220 *******). *** ************, ***** ******* *** **** ********* - ****** ** pay ~$*** **** *** **** *******.

*** ******* *** **** *********

******* ** *** *** ******** ** ************* ******* *********. *** pricing ****** ************* (** ***) *** *** ** **** **** expensive **** ***** ******* (***** ** **). ***** **** *** an ********* *******, *** ******* ******** ** ***** ******** ******* consideration.

***'* ****** *** ******* *********:

  • ******** ** ***** *** *******, *** ******* *** ***** * times ** *********.*** ********, * ******* *** ****** *** ** ******* **** ** about $*** ***** * ******* *** ****** *** ** ******* cost ** ***** $*,***.  ****** ***** ********* *** ****, *** *** similar ******* ****/**********, ****** ** *** ** **** **** ***** *** price *** * *** (**** * ***** ******). **** ** ******** ****** ** ***** ******* ***** *** ********* a **** *** *** ***** ******* *****.  ** ****, *** actual ***** ******** *** ****. *******, *** ******* ******* ****/**********, expect ** *** ** ***** * ***** *** ***** *** a *** (**** * ***** ******).
  • **** ***** **** *** ** ***** *****. *** ********, ****** **** **** **** **** $***. *******, *** ******* *** ***** ** ***** *** ******* and *** ******* **** ***** ** ***** ** *******. *** average ******* **** ***** ** *-**. **** ************* ****** ***** and *** *** *** *** *** ****.
  • ******* **** *** *** **** ********* **** ******* ****: ** *******, ***** $*,***. **** ** ********* * *********** ** ****** ****** ******* zooms (************* ********** ****** **** **** ******** **** **** ** see *******).

General ****** *******

***'* ******** **** ********* * ***** ********* ****** *******.

***/*****

** *** **** *** ********* ***** ******** *** ** ****, we ******** ********* *** *** ******* **** ******* '****' ***/***** functionality. **** ** *** ***** ** **** *** ** ****** lighted, ***/***** ******* *** **** * *** **********. ***** ****** vendors ********* **** ******* ************ ** *** *** * *** range, ******* ****** ******* ****** ** *********** ********* **** ** * - 10 *** (***** ** ********** *****, ** *** ******, *** human **********). ** *** **** ** ******, **** * **** at *** ****** ** ****** ***** ** ***** ******* ****.

**** **** *** ****** * '****' ***/***** *************. **** *** be **** ** ***** * ********** *** ****** (********* ****** an ** *** ******) ** ** ***** **** ****** (*** color, *** ***** & *****).**** ******* *** ****, *** ********** *** ******* *** *********** *** **** moderately **** ********* **** '***** ****' *******. ********* ******* *** **** **** ** '**********' ***/***** ******. In *** *******, ** '**********' ***/***** ************* *** ***** *** low ***** ************ **** * ********** *** ****** *** *******.

******* *********, ** **** ***** **** ***/***** ************* ** *** most ********* *** *********** ********* ** **** *** ***** ***********.

***

***, ** **** ******* *****, ** ** ********* ************* *** handling ******** ****** ** ****** ***** ****** ******* ***** *** dim ***** **** ******* ******* ** ********. *** ** ********* ******** ** ***(********) **** * ***** ** **** ** *****. *******, ***-*** cameras, ******* **** *** ******* ** ***** ** ***. ** contrast, **** *** ******* **** ****** ** ***+ **. *******, many ******* (**** ******* ****) ** *** **** * ******* rating. *****, ******* ******* *** *** ** *** **** ******** *** real ********* ***. *** *** *** ******** *** * ****** **** ** *** *******.

***** **** *** *** **** * *** ****** **********:

  • **** ** ************* ***** ** ******* ***, *** *****'* ** standard ** ********** ****** ****. 
  • '****' *****-******** *** ******* ***** **** **** ***-*** ** ******* WDR ******.
  • **** *** ** **, *** ***** *********** *** ******** ******.

****** ********

*** ***** ** ****** ******* ** ********** ******* ****** - primarily **** ******. ******** ** ************ ** ** ****** *********. **** **** **% ** ***** cameras *** **** ** *****. **** * ******* ** ***** cameras (***, ****, ***.) *** ****** *********.

*** *** ********* **** ****** ********** ** *** **** ** clarity ** ********** ** *** ****** ** **********. * ******** does *****, ******* ****** ******* ****** ******* ***** *******. ***** measurements *** ******** *******, ********* ********** ****** **********. *** ******* ****** ** *** ***** ** **** ***** is ****** ** * *.* ** **** ***** ******* ** a ** ** ********. ****'* * * ****** ***** **** shared **** ** ******* *** **** ** ******:


* ******* ** *** ****** ******* (*.*., ****, ****, *****) have **** ** **** **** ** ***** ******* *** ****. However, ** ****** *** **** ******** ** ************* ******.

****, **** ******* **** ******* ***** ******** ** '******' ********* even ** ** ** ***, ***** ******** **% **** ***** resistance **** ****.

** *** *** ****** ********* ***** ****** **********, *** **** vendors ************ ***** *** ****** *** ******* *********.

Login to read this IPVM report.
Why do I need to log in?
IPVM conducts unique testing and research funded by member's payments enabling us to offer the most independent, accurate and in-depth information.

Related Reports

Axis 'Sold Out' P3707-PVE Multi-Imager Tested on Oct 18, 2017
Axis faced significant product shortages over the summer. Perhaps the most notorious and significantly sold out model was the Axis P3707-PE 8MP...
Deep Learning Tutorial For Video Surveillance on Oct 17, 2017
Deep learning is a growing buzzword within physical security and video surveillance. But what is 'deep learning'? In this tutorial, we explain...
Multipoint Lock Access Control Tutorial on Oct 17, 2017
Doors are notoriously weak at stopping entry, and money can be misspent on wrong locks that leave doors quite vulnerable. While closed and locked...
Geovision GV-EDR2100 Tested Vs Hikvision on Oct 16, 2017
A number of ADI's top selling IP cameras are, at least surprisingly to us, from Geovision. We recently bought and tested the Geovision EDR2100...
Hanwha 20MP Multi-Imager Tested (PNM-9081VQ) on Oct 09, 2017
Hanwhwa has introduced the latest in their multi-imager camera line, the PNM-9081VQ, a Wisenet 5 20MP model with four repositionable 5MP camera...
Exporting Video Surveillance Tutorial on Oct 05, 2017
Exporting video surveillance is important when incidents or crimes occur. However, there are multiple ways to export video which have their pros...
Last Chance October Camera Course Registration on Oct 05, 2017
This is the last chance to register for the October Camera Course. Register now. Learn video surveillance and get certified. IPVM provides live...
Delayed Egress Access Control Tutorial on Oct 04, 2017
Is it ever legal to lock people into a building? The answer is: Yes... under specific situations. With so much of access control driven by life...
Geovision 4MP Super Low Cost Turret Tested (EBD-4700) on Sep 29, 2017
~$100 cameras, even for 4MP, are now expected by many dealers, as price cuts and ongoing sales have set this expectation. At the same time, many...
Propped Doors Access Control Tutorial on Sep 28, 2017
Doors should keep 'bad guys' out. One of the most basic problems with doors is people propping them open: Even worse, door propping...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Cisco Falling - Favorite Network Switches 2017 on Oct 20, 2017
1 major manufacturer fell and 1 outsider manufacturer gained as integrator favorites for network switches from more than 140 votes / explanations...
Uniview Recorder Backdoor Examined on Oct 20, 2017
A Chinese research group has identified a vulnerability in Uniview recorders that allows backdoor access in a method similar to the Dahua...
Hikvision Access Control Tested on Oct 19, 2017
Hikvision aggressive pricing and marketing combined with generally reliable hardware and free software has made them a major player in video...
Verkada, Silicon Valley VSaaS Startup, Targets Enterprise on Oct 19, 2017
Verkada says they are building an enterprise-class VSaaS offering, calling it "The new platform for video security". This is a departure from the...
Exacq Unbreaks Avigilon Integration on Oct 18, 2017
For nearly 4 years, Exacq had broken and effectively blocked use with Avigilon cameras, as IPVM reported in January 2014. Now, Exacq has...
Search More Important Than Live Monitoring - Statistics on Oct 18, 2017
Search is overall more important than live monitoring to integrators, according to new IPVM statistics.  The key themes found in integrator...
Axis 'Sold Out' P3707-PVE Multi-Imager Tested on Oct 18, 2017
Axis faced significant product shortages over the summer. Perhaps the most notorious and significantly sold out model was the Axis P3707-PE 8MP...
Dahua Removes Auto Rebooting on Oct 17, 2017
For years, Dahua has automatically programmed its IP cameras to reboot weekly, a highly atypical and questionable practice. Following IPVM...
Deep Learning Tutorial For Video Surveillance on Oct 17, 2017
Deep learning is a growing buzzword within physical security and video surveillance. But what is 'deep learning'? In this tutorial, we explain...
Multipoint Lock Access Control Tutorial on Oct 17, 2017
Doors are notoriously weak at stopping entry, and money can be misspent on wrong locks that leave doors quite vulnerable. While closed and locked...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact